Item description for The Courage to Be by Paul Tillich & Peter J. Gomes...
Overview One of the world's most eminent philosophers describes the dilemma of modern man and points a way to the conquest of the problem of anxiety. This new edition includes an Introduction by Peter J. Gomes.
Publishers Description In this classic and deeply insightful book, one of the world's most eminent philosophers describes the dilemma of modern man and points a way to the conquest of the problem of anxiety. This edition includes a new introduction by Peter J. Gomes that reflects on the impact of this book in the years since it was written.
Citations And Professional Reviews The Courage to Be by Paul Tillich & Peter J. Gomes has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Wilson Public Library Catalog - 12/31/2008 page 72
Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/2004 page 58
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Studio: Yale University Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 5" Height: 7.5" Weight: 0.4 lbs.
Release Date Jul 11, 2000
Publisher Yale University Press
ISBN 0300084714 ISBN13 9780300084719
Availability 0 units.
More About Paul Tillich & Peter J. Gomes
Paul Tillich (1886-1965) was a world-renowned philosopher and theologian. Harvey Cox is Hollis Research Professor of Divinity at Harvard University.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Courage to Be?
Surprised me by how much it spoke to my situation Mar 5, 2008
It seemed at the beginning that it would be too abstract. Too involved in a history of philosophy in its discussion of the Stoics. That Tillich was asserting too much, as if "ex cathedra". But even in the early chapters, I sensed something special and by the time I reached Chapter 4 ("Courage and Participation: The Courage to Be as a Part"), I began to feel the my current situation was being directly and wisely addressed. That feeling only grew stronger from that point on.
There's so much value in this book that I feel somehow unworthy of reviewing it. It doesn't seem that any amount of time I spent preparing a review could do justice to "The Courage to Be". I had heard so much of Tillich but this is the first time I have read him. I have missed a lot and I am grateful I finally turned to him. I had been concerned about religious myths and whether Christianity retained any value for me. Gnostic Christian myths seems fascinating and they made me wonder if Christianity might offer more to me than I had suspected. That concern with myths and Christianity led me to read several books by the progressive Christian Bishop John Shelby Spong (e.g. Jesus for the Non-Religious)). Spong mentioned in at least one of his books that he had been a student of Tillich's. Tillich had challenged Spong with the concept of nontheism, a position that Spong has moved to. That has been my own understanding since my teens but I had turned to nontheistic Eastern religions and to unorthodox, nondogmatic Western religions. Only recently had I been open to reconsidering liberal Christianity. To some extent I had already done that with such postmodern thinkers as Thomas Altizer (The Gospel of Christian Atheism and Living the Death of God: A Theological Memoir) and recently Spong. Following up with Tillich and this book has been literally a godsend.
In much of "The Courage to Be", Tillich applies his knowledge of Western Existentialism. This meant all the more to me as in my teens I had devoured such existentialists as Sartre, Camus and to a lesser extent even Nietzsche and Kierkegaard. But it was difficult to apply it to my situation. Altizer had helped by tracing developments from Christianity into postmodern movements including atheism but he was difficult to follow.
Here now is Tillich who ties together Western Existentialist topics such as anxiety and meaninglessness and a postmodern concern to rediscover the relevance of the Christian tradition. Is one's self in danger today of being a thing, or as he writes "a matter of calculation and management"? As Tillich points out, the Existentialist Revolt strongly opposed such objectification. But by transcending the theistic way of understanding the sacred ,by turning to "the God above God", Tillich shares a hope ( at least in finding courage) that speak to those Existentialism addressed but recovers something from Christian roots. It is a project that seems to take better advantage of Western history and Christianity's role in it as it was than Spong's dependence on speculations to salvage an acceptable image of Jesus.
This is not a book for a single reading. I've started already on my second reading and I am also reading more of Tillich, already The socialist decision and am planning to read soon A HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN THOUGHT Edited By Carl E. Braaten. I somehow overlooked Tillich all these years and I am eager to make up for lost time. The timing is good because, as Spong has described, I seem to be "a believer in exile", raised a Christian and, although having questioned much about it, still influenced by my Protestant upbringing and by the many writings such as those of the Existentialists, that proceeded directly from or in reaction to Christianity.
Finding "A Courage to Be" and Tillich may be a way for me to accept my background without rejecting what I have learned and felt since.
More than the courage to live Aug 5, 2007
This is a short book full of ideas and concepts that should be immediately familiar to, and have great meaning for, anybody who has experienced an existential crisis and the associated despair. Phrases like "ultimately concerned" and "naked anxiety", which feature prominently here, do capture, however imperfectly, the chaos of thoughts and emotions that go through any human for whom life and the whole universe become meaningless. What Tillich understands, and is able to articulate better than most, is just how difficult it is to be a finite creature, an animal, who nonetheless has a taste of the divine, and who therefore must live for meaning. This is what gives rise to faith, and faith provides the courage to be, to transcend both life and death. I'm not sure if Tillich's definition of God as the "ground of being" will be palatable to readers, either Christian or not. Tillich himself has the courage to admit that ancient Stoicism is a viable alternative to Christianity. In my own opinion, Christian existentialism is a robust and serious belief system, one that can provide spiritual seekers a source of meaning that may be more life-affirming than the sterile philosophy of secular humanism and the impenetrable whirl of Eastern mysticism. For this reason I give this book the full five stars.
COMMENT ON BASIC IDEA May 2, 2007
TILLICH'S BASIC IDEAS OF GOD AND THE GOD-ABOVE-GOD ARE NOT CLEAR IN THE COURAGE TO BE SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE HE STATES AS THE ESSENTIAL FUNCTION OF CHRISTIAN CLERGY KEEPING PEOPLE FROM REALIZING THE NATURE OF "GOD" FOR WHICH PURPOSE HE IDENTIFIES THE "GOD-ABOVE-GOD" THE NATURE OF "GOD" IS THE GREAT MACHINE WHICH IN ALBERT EINSTEIN'S VIEW FOR EXAMPLE OBVIATES HUMAN FREEDOM. THAT IS: THE UNIVERSE IS MACHINE GOVERNED BY FIXED LAW; WE ARE ALL PARTS OF THE UNIVERSE, NO MORE FREE THAN A ROCK TO HAVE FREEDOM FROM, SAY, GRAVITY. TILLICH SAYS THAT TO REALLY GRASP THIS IS BEYOND HUMAN ENDURANCE. IF ONE IS A SERIOUS STUDENT OF THE BIBLE, ONE CAN SEE THAT THE "GOD" OF TILLICH IS PRESENTED TO THE JEWS, BUT WITH A SET OF ILLUSIONS, AS CHOSEN, THE NEED FOR AN ENEMY TO DEFINE AS OTHER THAN AS THE "GOD" OF TILLICH THE NATURE OF THE JEWISH INDIVIDUAL, THE LONG-TERM ETHIC OF GHE GOOD DEFINED AS WHAT IS BEST FOR JEWS THROUGH CENTURIES. EINSTEIN CALLED THE JEWISH GOD (THE "GOD" OF TILLICH) AS THE NEGATION OF SUPERSTITION AND WITH IMAGINARY CHARACTERISTICS ADDED. THE "GOD-ABOVE-GOD" IS AN INTELLECTIZED JUSTIFICATION FOR IGNORING OR NOT PERMITTING OTHERS TO COMPREHEND THE MECHANICAL NATURE OF REALITY. TO IGNORE INVOLVES RISK. A MAN WHO IGNORES THE MECHANISTIC NATURE OF CAUSE AND EFFECT IN FAVOR OF COURAGE, HOPE, ROMANTICISM OR WHATEVER EXERCISES EITHER HIS IGNORANCE OR HIS COURAGE.
Contains Key Spiritual Insights Grounded in Existentialist Thought Nov 23, 2006
Tillich gathers strands from stoicism, theistic existentialism, dialectical thought and fideism in an attempt to weave a unifying belief-system. I don't think he completely succeeds in doing that. However, he does manage to express some spiritual insights. And it is in the mining these spiritual gems that makes the book a worthwhile read.
Many reviewers have voiced the opinion that Tillich's writing style is very difficult to read. I do not necessarily agree with this assessment. Tillich employs paradoxical language in an attempt to explain that which is beyond all words. At times, his writing is dry. But it is not terribly difficult to follow.
Here are some of the insights that I have gathered from the reading of this book:
- The human predicament is the estrangement of one's existence from one's essential being. This estrangement is sin.
- God is understood as "being" itself. And "being" is a "creative process."
- There's a dialectical tension between being and nonbeing. And "the courage to be" is the power of being to will itself, to overcome the threat of nonbeing.
- "Courage needs the power of being, a power transcending the nonbeing" pg. 155
- Existential angst takes on three distinct forms: 1) the anxiety of fate and death, 2) the anxiety of emptiness and meaninglessness and 3) the anxiety of guilt and condemnation.
Tillich discusses at length the sociological implications of these three forms of "anxieties" as they played out in history.
At the heart of Tillich's discussion is the dialectical tension that exists between the individual and the group of which the individual is a part. Both the individual and the group are affirmed and denied. By affirming the self, the individual denies the group; by affirming the group, the individual denies himself. How does one overcome this conflict? By "the courage to be," and the "courage to be" is none other than faith itself.
"The 'courage to be' is the courage to accept oneself as accepted in spite of being unacceptable." pg. 164 This is Tillich's interpretation of the doctrine of "justification by faith."
I found Tillich's discussion of death to be very interesting:
"The courage to die is also the test of the courage to be. A self-affirmation which omits taking the affirmation of one's death into itself tries to escape the test of courage, the facing of nonbeing in the most radical way." pg. 169
We must learn to embrace death by taking death into ourselves. And it is with this acceptance that we affirm the "courage to be." It is only by dying, by dying to the self, that we are reborn to eternal life. Faith defined as the "courage to be" is where we derive the power of God, who is being itself.
Here are some examples of Tillich's paradoxical statements or aphorisms:
- "He who participates in God participates in eternity. But in order to participate in him you must be accepted by him and you must have accepted his acceptance of you." pg. 170
- "The courage to be is an expression of faith and what "faith" means must be understood through the courage to be." pg. 172
- "Faith is not an opinion but a state. It is the state of being grasped by the power of being, which transcends everything that is, and in which everything that is, participates." pg. 173
The major criticism that I have of Tillich's thought as represented in this book is that he failed to link the "courage to be" or faith with love. Ultimately love is the power of being. And God is not only being itself but also love. They are inseparable.
Worth trudging through Tillich's heavy jargon Nov 19, 2006
Technically, this book is difficult to read and often hard to understand. The book feels like an awkward translation by Tillich of his own stream of conscienceness. But, that should not deter you in any way.
Once you feel comfortable with the language the book really opens up as you get a feel for Tillich's rhetorical skill. The arguments are well made and are very fun to wrestle with. He speaks on Courage in it's different forms, their manifestations in history and politics, and it's place in our modern lives.
I found this book to be a very interesting (and helpful) perspective on how we arrived at the point we are in live today, both individually and collectively. Far from being an anachronism Tillich's famous book is as enlightening now as it was in the 1950's.